January 30, 2015

7:27 PM | Vouchers May Be Ticket Out of Public Schools for Kids With Disabilities- But is That a Good Thing?
JACKSON, Miss. - Some students with disabilities may get a chance to leave the public school system here - but advocates and parents aren’t sure it will improve their education. Lawmakers in Mississippi will soon debate a bill to give special education students vouchers for private schools, which supporters say will boost their options and opportunities. Opponents, though, say vouchers will simply send disabled students to ill-equipped, unregulated schools and ultimately absolve the state […]
1:00 PM | The Problem with Unbundling College
An interesting discussion in higher education policy today has to do with “unbundling” college. Like music, so proponents of the idea argue, we will soon see a world in which people receive higher education based on individual needs and desires. There’s no need to show up at the University of Maryland, after all, if you can just download all the courses you need to get a BA from colleges around the country. College might become an on-demand exercise that has little to do with […]
7:20 AM | Keys for Supporting Hispanic Dual Language Learners in Early Education
As I discussed in yesterday’s post, Hispanic dual language learners (DLLs) are a large and growing share of the American population under the age of five. And while there is considerable political interest in expanding public pre-K programs, policymakers rarely design these new programs with DLLs’ (Hispanic or otherwise) needs in mind. Policy always lags schools’ needs, of course. The critical, proverbial Policy Reforms of Minerva fly only at dusk. It’s hard enough to […]

January 29, 2015

10:31 PM | Online Education Might Make College Cheaper, But Not for the Reason You Think
One of the underlying ideas for the potential good to be provided by online education is that it’s a great way to eliminate inefficiency. Online education is learning in its most basic form. Classes don’t even need chalkboards. And once we figure out how to do education right, all college is going to get cheap, because we can all cut out what’s unnecessary. According to this recent opinion piece at Forbes, "standardized online courses... are cost effective and will reduce […]

January 28, 2015

8:00 PM | Undocumented Immigrants and College
Back in 2013 I wrote a piece about undocumented immigrants and various states’ plans to provide them with in-state tuition. The policies were pretty different by state, which made it difficult to figure out what was going on. Now, for the first time, we have a comprehensive survey of undocumented students from across the nation. Conducted by the Institute for Immigration, Globalization, and Education at UCLA and the UndocuScholars Project, the report indicates that they're mostly […]

January 27, 2015

2:32 PM | At Last, the Orleans Parish School District Has a New Superintendent - Now what?
After a search that lasted more than two and a half years, the New Orleans Parish School Board found a new superintendent. Henderson Lewis Jr. was the board’s unanimous choice and he will soon have the opportunity to start the 180-Day action plan he presented during his interview. The Jan. 20 selection is cause for celebration - the board can reach consensus. However, let’s hope “Doc” Lewis can rally this disparate group of politicos for longer than the time it took to […]

January 26, 2015

6:03 PM | Debunking One Myth About U.S. Teachers
Charts by Jill Barshay. Data source: Who Enters Teaching? Encouraging Evidence that the Status of Teaching is Improving, Educational Researcher, December 2014 Back in 2010, McKinsey & Company issued a report that made a powerful argument: the world’s top performing school systems draw teachers from the best and brightest in their societies, but in the United States, almost half of new teachers come from the bottom third, as measured by SAT scores.  It’s been […]
1:45 PM | How Cyber Hacks Are Changing Higher Ed
From UMass Boston to Vermont’s Champlain College, institutes of higher education are trying to boost the number of graduates in a field that barely existed ten years ago: cyber security. And colleges and universities are scrambling to keep up with increased cyber security threats. For the past two decades, David Kaeli has been teaching electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern University. Now, a rash of cyber hacks is changing how and what he teaches. “Security has to be […]

January 23, 2015

2:04 PM | Year-Round Pell Grants: What You Know is Probably Not True
The year-round Pell Grant was a widely misunderstood federal program. Despite existing for just a few short years, it has garnered a reputation as overly expensive and poorly implemented. But these popular myths disguise the true story of a valuable program that fell victim to broader economic circumstances beyond its control and years of Congressional unwillingness to address funding challenges. Those are the key findings from “Myths and Misunderstandings: The Undeserved Legacy of […]

January 22, 2015

8:45 PM | Public School: Our Best Weapon Against Terror Attacks on Freedom of Speech?
Waving flags and pens won’t unify a country like public schools can. If you want more patriotic citizens, then demand the integration of public schools. Protect the country from inside the schoolhouse out. This month’s attacks in Paris were both unpredictable and expected. Harder to defuse, lone-wolf terrorist plots continue to sprout abroad and in the U.S. Many domestic efforts have been foiled since 9/11, but one U.S. official said of decentralized attacks, “It’s like […]

January 21, 2015

10:51 PM | Gov. Bobby Jindal, Policy Wonk
No comment.
9:00 PM | Today in Bad Marketing Campaigns, a College without “College”
Those of us who follow higher education know that if one thing is constant in higher education it’s the effort colleges make to “rebrand” themselves, as more selective, more Christian, more artistic, or the ever-popular “more prestigious.” American colleges are, compared to the rest of the world, mostly pretty new. Some of this is understandable because so many institutions are really still figuring out what they want to be. But it turns out this sort of behavior […]

January 20, 2015

11:28 PM | Fact-Checking and the CUNY-Atlantic Debacle
On Tuesday last week the Atlantic published an article highlighting changes at the City University of New York, a college system that, in the view of the authors, was increasingly bifurcated. Wealthier white and Asian students tended to go to the top CUNY colleges, and poorer black and Hispanics tended to be relegated to the less selective community colleges run by the system. As a result, according to the original headline, “…High Achievers Have No Place To Go.” And then it […]
3:20 PM | At Education Week: Connect Children to the Classroom Early
Last week, Education Week released its annual Quality Counts report. This year, the report includes an expansive focus on early education: “Preparing to Launch: Early Childhood’s Academic Countdown.” It’s worth checking out. As part of the release, I wrote a commentary in response to this question posed by Education Week: What’s a research concern that we still need answered about early-childhood education? I say that while there has been a great deal of research […]

January 19, 2015

3:14 PM | Three Lessons From Data on the Best Ways to Give Feedback to Students
Proponents of computerized instruction often point out that software can give instant feedback to students. And that helps students learn more. That’s why a personal tutor can be so powerful. He or she can immediately react when there’s a misunderstanding and provide an explanation or a hint. But the truth is, educators don’t really understand how a teacher’s feedback leads to learning and exactly what kinds of feedback work best. A team of researchers led by Fabienne […]
3:09 PM | How We Can Pay Tribute to Mothers of Slain Children on Martin Luther King Jr. Day
They say, “A mother’s work is never done.” Depressingly, the work referenced in this motto can be that of social justice. As new leadership emerges in highflying cases of injustice, mothers of slain unarmed black men and boys have become primary teachers of the prevention of racial bias and discrimination. The mothers of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and an unrecognized number speak with unequivocal clarity as to who and what kill our children. As Sybrina […]

January 18, 2015

6:53 PM | Comments on President Obama's State of the Union Higher Education Proposals
As President Obama enters the last two years of his presidency, he has made higher education one of the key points in his policy platform. The announcement of a plan to give students two years of free tuition at community colleges has gotten a great deal of attention, even though a lot of details are still lacking. (See my analysis of the plan here.) In an unusual Saturday night release, the Obama Administration laid out some details of its tax proposals that will be further elaborated in […]

January 16, 2015

2:59 PM | Seeking Political Support, Colleges Prod Students to Vote
From the day they turned up for orientation at California Polytechnic State University, freshmen were bombarded by a music video set to the catchy tune of the hip-hop hit Fancy. This version, though, was very different from the original sung by Australian hip-hop artist Iggy Azalea. Set in a Cal Poly classroom, it featured bored-looking students slowly being spurred — in a blaze of enthusiastic red, white and blue — to exercise their right to vote. “Students, voice your vote […]
2:54 PM | In Dutch Schools, More Time in School and More Educator Control
UTRECHT, The Netherlands — Last summer, when the Dutch government debated mandating that all schools provide three hours of physical education a week to students, Jasper Bunt, principal at a Montessori school called Oog in Al, argued against it. He already offered the required two hours of gym at his school in Utrecht, a city 30 miles south of Amsterdam. Another 60 minutes would mean giving up time in another subject. Bunt has each of his 350 students for 200 days a year — four […]

January 15, 2015

8:01 PM | The CUNY Problem: How a Public College Gives up on the Public
In 1961 New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed a bill to create the City University of New York, an inexpensive (and later open admissions) system of colleges designed, at least in part, to serve the city’s working class and minority community. The cheap price was a major attraction to the city’s high achieving, but low income, students. Many of them were academically capable of being admitted elsewhere, but knew that CUNY was an affordable way to get a degree, often while […]
4:52 PM | No, Libertarians, Community Colleges Are Not a Bad Investment Choice
We’re still a few weeks away from Punxsutawney Phil’s time to shine, but it’s already Groundhog Day on the Washington Post’s Post Everything blog thanks to Cato’s Neal McCluskey. His déjà vu moment: A critique of the President’s proposal for free community college grounded in warmed over lobbyist talking points about how for-profit colleges serve students better than these public institutions. Even if you did not read McCluskey’s piece, […]
1:36 PM | Dual Language Learners in Sen. Lamar Alexander's No Child Left Behind Bill
It’s that time in the congressional calendar again! Welcome back to what my friend Anne Hyslop recently called this “edition of will we—won’t we rewrite [the Elementary and Secondary Education Act].” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) shared his draft reauthorization bill yesterday. The current version of the law—No Child Left Behind (NCLB)—is the federal government’s largest primary and secondary education investment. It was due to be reauthorized in […]

January 14, 2015

7:00 PM | Why Are Fewer People Passing the GED?
The General Educational Development Test (the GED) is the nation’s most familiar way to get into college without completing high school. The test, like other standardized examinations, has gone through changes periodically. In 1988 administrators added an essay section. In 2011 it became a for-profit enterprise. But now it looks like the test may have gotten a lot more difficult. There was a “sizable decrease” in the number of people passing the examination. According to […]
5:00 PM | The College Admissions Tease
Many colleges are doing something kind of fishy with admissions. In general college admissions works like this: a college has an acceptance rate that’s known and many students want to attend school there. There are other students, say, athletes or rich people or very smart people or ethnic minorities or something, who might not ordinarily be interested in attending the college, but who the school then seeks out. The fact that a college sent you a brochure or a Facebook message […]
3:41 PM | 4 Surprises in Scholastic's National Survey of Kids and Reading
Last week Scholastic released  the Kids and Family Reading Report, its annual survey of children’s reading, and some of the results run counter to conventional wisdom about how much children love electronic books and desire independence. The responses provide hints of nostalgia for cuddling up on the couch turning pages of paper with their parents by their side. Parents responded to the survey via the Web, although the sample of respondents were first identified through random […]
3:35 PM | Vox on Fair-Value Accounting for Loan Programs
Matt Yglesias at Vox wrote a piece this week about fair-value accounting for federal loan programs (including student loans). It’s a good article, but at several points he lends credence to some of the faulty financial logic critics of fair-accounting love to recite. Readers interested in the broader debate about fair-value can read the Congressional Budget Office’s explanation or this National Affairs article. One of the most common arguments against fair-value accounting is that […]
3:30 PM | First Thoughts on President Obama's Free Community College Proposal
Last week, President Obama announced an ambitious proposal that would make the first two years of a community college free to many students. This announcement comes at a time when there is growing national anxiety about the rising costs of college and the increased indebtedness of students. Now that more details have come out, here are some first thoughts: The message of free college is great. In terms of college access, the proposal offers a wonderful opportunity to tell prospective college […]
2:05 PM | Have Legislators Thwarted Chance to Bring Funds to Cash-Strapped Mississippi Schools?
CARROLL­ COUNTY, Miss. — Students in this rural district ride to school on aging buses, then sit in 20-year-old portable classrooms or decrepit buildings reading outdated textbooks. The district of 1,009 students has only two teaching assistants to help in classrooms, and Superintendent Billy Joe Ferguson makes an annual salary of $18,000. Such details only begin to describe “the wretched conditions” that exist in Carroll County due to years of underfunding, as outlined in […]

January 13, 2015

4:48 PM | It Takes a Community: Obama's Free College Plan Will Need a Broad Coalition to Become a Reality
I’ll never forget the moments after my grandfather proudly dropped me off at Allegheny College in 1989, and I became one of the first in my family to attend college. We stood by his 1987 Honda Accord as he gave me the classic “You’re an adult in college now,” speech. After Grandpa lectured me about personal responsibility and hard work (variations of talks I heard before), he reached deep in the pockets of his blue, pinstripe slacks. That was the moment for which I was […]

January 12, 2015

7:11 PM | Reining In the Excesses of College Sports
Big Ten champion Ohio State and Pac-12 champion Oregon will meet in Arlington, Texas, tonight, in this country’s first College Football Championship game. The Buckeyes and Ducks will take the field at a time when college sports have never been a bigger business. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) football and basketball is now a $16 billion dollar industry. In recent years, we’ve witnessed a dramatic rise in college football and basketball coach compensation while […]
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